Normally, a lower-layer cultivator being accepted by a Core Formation cultivator as a disciple would definitely be an extremely bizarre matter, a situation that one could not even dream about. However, when Han Li was in shock after he heard these words, he instinctively detected that something was not right.
Based on his aptitude and magic technique, how could this kind of a good fortune fall upon his shoulders? As for the explanation that it was a great reward for his supposed great services to Yellow Maple Valley, Han Li believed it even less. If this Martial Ancestor had won the bet and, in a moment of excitement, accepted him because of this success, it might have actually been somewhat sincere. But even though he had clearly lost in a total mess, he still wanted to accept him as a disciple; this was enough to make Han Li think!
While Han Li was running through all these mental gymnastics, Martial Ancestor Li began to become displeased.
When he had said that he would accept Han Li as his disciple, he originally thought that the other person would definitely be incomparably ecstatic and immediately agree readily. But who expected that Han Li actually stood blankly in the same spot, his expression one of amazement. He actually didn’t immediately respond, which caused Martial Ancestor Li to feel somewhat resentful.
However, on the outside, Martial Ancestor Li naturally still had to maintain the poise of a Martial Ancestor, so he indifferently said:
“Han Li, if you aren’t willing to take me as your master, you only need to clearly say it; I will not force you! I can separately bestow a few magic tools upon you as compensation!”
When Han Li heard this, he knew that although the other person’s words were pretty, he definitely was not happy in his heart. Han Li was very clear even without thinking hard what the consequences of offending this Martial Ancestor would be. In addition, for a Qi Condensation disciple like him to refuse a Core Formation cultivator’s acceptance of a disciple excessively defied common sense. Perhaps after he refused the offer, he would attract even more troubles.
Thinking to this point, he gritted his teeth. No matter what the other person’s attempts towards him were, he would first deal with the situation in front of him.
“Disciple is obviously delighted to be able to kowtow under Martial Ancestor’s tutelage, it is this disciple’s honor! Earlier it was just that disciple was too happy and completely forgot to speak; please forgive disciple, Martial Ancestor!” Han Li said with a hurried tone, his face blushing strongly as he pretended to regain his focus after being exhilarated.
Then, Han Li very tactfully kowtowed a few times to Martial Ancestor Li, immediately performing the ritual of formally becoming a disciple.
“Very good! From today onwards you are my, Li Huayuan’s, disciple; this Jade Light Saber magic tool can be regarded as a greeting present.” A smiling, exuberant expression appeared on Li Huayuan’s face, and he reached his hand out to support Han Li. Then, he handed him a long, greenish-jade saber. Judging from the spiritual light flickering on it, it definitely was a top-grade magic tool.
Han Li solemnly received the long saber with his two hands, then kowtowed again to express his respect before standing up again, pretending to be unable to contain his joy.
The other disciples watched dumbstruck, fires burning in their eyes. Their gazes towards Han Li were extremely peculiar, wishing that the person to receive the magic tool was themselves instead of Han Li, whom they had long considered to be unpleasant to their sight.
Although Han Li was unclear about the thoughts inside other people’s hearts, the provocative gazes individually landing on his body allowed him to roughly guess it, and he couldn’t help but bitterly laugh in his heart!
If it was possible, he actually hoped that the attention of this Martial Ancestor could have been placed on another person instead of himself, an unlucky bastard! One had to know that he still remembered very clearly the lesson he had learned from his previous master, Doctor Mo! Even better, today another master with even greater ability and many schemes had come; this caused Han Li to be speechless!
“When after a period of time your Foundation Establishment succeeds, I will come take you to my place personally and receive you as an official disciple. It doesn’t matter if your Foundation Establishment has not yet occurred; I will also give you some pointers on your cultivation technique,” Martial Ancestor Li instructed Han Li.
“Yes, Master!” Han Li, naturally having no more opinions, very obediently complied.
“Okay, the time is not early, let’s return to Yellow Maple Valley!” declared Martial Ancestor Li after glancing at the color of the sky.
Next, everybody once again climbed onto Martial Ancestor Li’s silver python and, after a few days of flight, returned to Yellow Maple Valley.
As soon as they had entered the valley, Martial Ancestor Li Huayuan brought two stewards with him and went ahead to the official hall. The other people dissipated one by one, returning to their own homes, awaiting the prizes that would be awarded a few days later.
Within a small cottage in the Yellow Maple Valley’s Hundred Medicine Garden, the little Senior Martial Uncle Ma opened his eyes wide, staring at Han Li as if he had seen a ghost. He muttered in his mouth nonstop:
“This is impossible; not only did you not die, you also picked up a fortune in the forbidden area, turning in twenty or so spiritual medicines in an instant, and you were accepted by Martial Ancestor Li as an in-name disciple!”
“Yes, Senior Martial Uncle Ma! Isn’t my good fortune deep and my good luck stunning!” Han Li said, smiling yet not smiling, as he sat opposite the little old man as if he were very pleased.
The little old man’s facial expression returned to normal upon hearing Han Li’s words, but he began to gaze at Han Li with a strange expression in his eyes. His gaze caused Han Li to feel somewhat apprehensive, unsure of what the other person’s intentions were.
“Little fellow Han, your harvest from this time’s expedition to the forbidden area truly is not small. It has far exceeded all of my expectations!” said the little old man with a long sigh.
“I also did not expect it!” Han Li leisurely responded.
“But do you know the real purpose for why Junior Martial Uncle Li accepted you as an in-name disciple?”
(TL: The change in Martial Ancestor Li’s title here is mostly due to Senior Martial Uncle Ma’s seniority and status as compared to Martial Ancestor Li.)
The somewhat sympathetic tone revealed in the little old man’s next sentence caused Han Li to jolt, but immediately after he began to rejoice. However, he was still strongly resisting the movements in his heart; he pretended to be confused and asked in astonishment:
“Senior Martial Uncle Ma, could it be that Martial Ancestor Li’s accepting of disciples has another reason?”
“Senior Martial Uncle? Hehe! Since Junior Martial Brother Han Li has already kowtowed to Junior Martial Uncle, you can just call me Senior Martial Brother Ma. I no longer dare to respond to the title Senior Martial Uncle!” said the little old man slowly and methodically, gently shaking his head.
“Cough! Why does Senior Martial Uncle Ma laugh at Junior Martial Nephew, who doesn’t know that seniority in the cultivation world is assigned by cultivation technique? As long as I have not yet entered the Foundation Establishment stage for one day, Senior Martial Uncle Ma is naturally still my senior,” said Han Li very sincerely, and immediately poured a cup of medicine flower tea for the little old man, handing it to the other person.
“Not bad, not bad! You indeed can be taught! It seems like you have not yet lost your wits because of this matter, so I will tell you now beforehand. In reality, even if I don’t say it, you will know in three to four more days,” said the little old man faintly, nodding his head in satisfaction.
Hearing this, Han Li was slightly startled, but he concentrated his attention on hearing the other person’s next utterance. One had to know that he had always been on edge with regards to the matter of Martial Ancestor Li’s sudden acceptance of him as a disciple. Thus, he naturally would not pass up an opportunity to get the inside story beforehand.
“What rewards do you think you can get, having turned in this many spiritual medicines?” the little old man suddenly asked, changing the subject.
“It should be exchangeable for two Foundation Establishment Pills! I had asked around earlier; if one turns in around ten spiritual medicines, one can exchange them for one Foundation Establishment Pill,” Han Li responded obediently. He knew that the other person would definitely have a reason for asking this kind of a question.
“Hmph! In a few days, when the rewards are granted, you will only have the portion of one Foundation Establishment Pill. You can stop dreaming about getting two!” said the little old man somewhat mockingly.
“What? How could it be this way! Could there be people who embezzle the rewards?” Han Li almost bounced up, an expression of disbelief on his face.
There isn’t any embezzlement; no one dares to do that! Only your rewards have decreased. All the others should be receiving their entire reward. Otherwise, who would be willing to participate in the next Trial by Blood and Fire!?” the little old man explained with a slanted mouth.
“Could the reason be due to Martial Ancestor Li?” Han Li asked seriously after tilting his head and thinking for a moment.
“You can’t be considered to be too stupid, since you found the heart of the matter so quickly. It really is because Martial Ancestor Li accepted you as a disciple that it would be this way!” The little old man nodded, admiration flashing through his eyes.
“This sect has an unwritten practice; if there is any clear master-disciple relationship, the master has the right to take half of the disciple’s tribute to the sect as a gift to thank the master. Of course, this is limited to the first time, and cannot be repeated. The spiritual medicines you harvested in the forbidden area can be considered to be a kind of tribute to the sect. Thus, I reckon that the reason why Martial Ancestor Li so zealously accepted you as a disciple is most likely because he wanted your ten or so herbs as a gift. The spiritual medicines that are passed on are halved, and so your rewards are naturally also halved, so you should not hope for two Foundation Establishment Pills anymore,” the little old man explained thoroughly to Han Li.
Han Li knitted his eyebrows, but he revealed no traces of anger or dissatisfaction, only lowering his head soundlessly. This caused the little old man to feel somewhat shocked and sense that something was off. He naturally did not know that not only was Han Li not angry, he actually let out a long sigh and relaxed the heart that had always been tight.
It turned out that this new master had wanted his spiritual medicines; this had really been outside of his expectations, but it also caused Han Li to begin to relax. To Han Li, who was about to refine these pills, one Foundation Establishment Pill could not amount to much! As long as he could succeed in refining these pills, he couldn’t care less about the loss of merely one.
The little old man didn’t know Han Li’s attitude. Seeing that Han Li didn’t make a sound, he thought that Han Li was holding in a stomach of stuffiness but was good at controlling it and didn’t let it leak out. Thus, he lightly laughed and began to comfort Han Li:
“Although you get one less Foundation Establishment Pill, you exchanged it for being accepted as Martial Ancestor Li’s in-name disciple; you haven’t suffered a huge loss, so it’s not too bad. One has to know that your talent is not very good; even if you were to use two Foundation Establishment Pills, your hopes of successfully entering the Foundation Establishment stage are not too high. It’s more worth it to use one in exchange for gaining Martial Ancestor Li as an influential backer; this way, even if in the future you are still in the Qi Condensation stage, pretty much no one in the sect will dare to provoke you. You should know that although Martial Ancestor Li was not sincerely accepting you as his disciple, you are still carrying his influence. Which regular disciple or steward would give you trouble lightly? In addition, as far as I know, Junior Martial Uncle Li is very protective of his face!”
When Han Li heard this, he was somewhat moved in his heart. When the little old man had sent him the two bottles of pills before he went to the forbidden area, he could already tell that the other person was someone with a cold exterior but a warm heart; this person’s character truly was not bad! But with these words, Han Li remembered them in his heart even more; it seemed as if the other person was worth building a deep relationship with!
Although Han Li thought this in his heart, outwardly he still pretended to be barely moved by what the little old man said, and after bitterly laughing a few times, he finally opened his mouth to speak, and carelessly spoke with him for a bit.
This Senior Martial Uncle Ma, seeing that Han Li had seemingly recovered from this setback, was very happy in his heart, and not long after he said his goodbyes and left. The Hundred Medicine Garden naturally was once again under Han Li’s care.